February 28, 2010

The Sunday Sampler - Health

Welcome to a new installment of The Sunday Sampler.  This is the day where I share my insights, thoughts, and opinions with you about different things in three categories: fitness (gear/clothing/accessories/etc.), parenthood, and health rotating each category each week.  I hope that makes sense! :)  
My hope is that I will be able to help you along your adventure just like so many others have helped me. So, let me know what you think!  I'd love to read about your perspectives on these things as well!  :) 



Originally I was supposed to post this last Sunday, but since I was in AZ I didn't have the opportunity to get it done.  But, I figured it's better late than never! 

Now, as runners and triathletes we all know about eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.  And, we definitely know about the importance of exercise (so much so that it can sometimes become obsessive!).  So, I'm not going to talk about diet and exercise.  I would, however, like to focus on something very simple that everyone can incorporate into their life that has some amazing benefits: flaxseeds.  
So, what are flaxseeds?  
Here is some info from www.whfoods.com
Flaxseeds are slightly larger than sesame seeds and have a hard shell that is smooth and shiny. Their color ranges from deep amber to reddish brown depending upon whether the flax is of the golden or brown variety.
Their flavor is warm and earthy with a subtly nutty edge. While unground flaxseeds feature a soft crunch, they are usually not consumed whole but rather ground since this allows for the enhancement of their nutrient absorption. Ground flaxseeds can have a relatively mealy texture with a potential hint of crunch depending upon how fine they are ground.

Why should we eat flaxseeds?  
Well, I'll tell you!  Here are some benefits:

  • Flaxseeds are rich in alpha linolinic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fat 
  • They have anti-inflammatory benefits
    • The Omega-3 fats are used by the body to produce prostaglandins, which are anti-inflammatory hormone-like molecules, which can help reduce the inflammation that is a significant factor in conditions such as asthma, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headaches, and osteoporosis.
  • They protect bone health
    • The ALA found in flaxseeds promotes bone health by helping to prevent excessive bone turnover-when consumption of foods rich in this omega-3 fat results in a lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in the diet.
  • They protect against Heart disease, Cancer, and Diabetes
  • They help prevent and control high blood pressure
  • They provide comparable cholesterol-lowering benefits as Statin drugs
  • They are rich in beneficial fiber  

Some things to be aware of:
*  Flaxseeds can be bought whole or ground. However, if buy whole flaxseeds, always grind them first before eating them to enhance their digestibility and nutritional value

*  They need to be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place to keep them from spoiling.  I like to keep mine in the refrigerator.

*  If stored properly, ground flaxseeds can keep fresh for a few months.

*  If you add ground flaxseeds to meals when cooking, make sure to add them at the end of the process because they tend to thicken the liquids.

*  When you first begin to incorporate flaxseeds into your diet, make sure you start with a small amount such as 1 tsp.  Because flaxseeds are a great source of fiber, you can experience gas and bloating if you eat too much too soon!  

How to incorporate flaxseeds into your diet:
*  Add them to your smoothie
*  Add them to your cereal, oatmeal, cottage cheese, or yogurt
*  Add them when you bake muffins, cookies, scones, cakes, etc.
*  You can sprinkle them on veggies for a nutty flavor
*  Add them to pancake or waffle batter
*  You can use them instead of eggs in recipes (1egg = 1Tbl. flaxseed mixed with 3Tbl. water)

All in all, my family and I try to eat some flaxseeds every day.  I really think flaxseeds are something that everyone can incorporate into their diets.  And, with so many benefits why wouldn't you?  

So, do you eat flaxseeds?  If so, how do you eat them?  Do you have any favorite recipes to share?  


Big Daddy Diesel said...

I take flaxseed as a pill supplement, no recipes here, just some water to get it down the hatch

RockStarTri said...

My wife's cardiologist recommended for her to take flaxseed oil as a supplement (along with fish oil and red rice yeast) to help lower her cholesterol. We thought this snake oil but after a few months her cholesterol went down 15. Who woulda thunk it?

Julie said...

Hi Aimee,
I love flaxseeds! Trader Joes has really good flaxseed & veggie tortilla chips. I have a powerbar recipe that takes flaxseeds. You have tons of great and helpful information about the flaxseeds..thanks for sharing:)

Caratunk Girl said...

Here is a recipe for apple muffins I use with flaxseed meal...
Flax and Apple Muffins
1/4 cup milled flax seed
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour (I find they get kind of heavy otherwise)
1/4 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1-1/2 cups chopped apples (or any fruit works)
3 tbsp pumpkin, apple sauce, flax seed meal, or cranberry sauce (can use veg oil instead, but I try to cut on fat)
1/2 cup milk (soy milk OK)
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Blend the dry ingredients in one bowl. Blend egg, pumpkin (whatever you used in that step), and milk. Add dry ingredients until just blended. Fold in apples and nuts (batter will be thick). Fill well-greased (I used Pam) muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until top springs back when touched. Yield 12 muffins.

Anne Marie said...

Ooh..you're making me add flaxseeds to my grocery list tomorrow...for TJ's actually, so I'll get Julie's rec on the flaxseed chips too;-)
I really like the part you suggested on where I can add them to my foods. and you say they can sub for eggs? for any recipe, like cookies too? thx

Aimee (I Tri To Be Me) said...

Caratunk girl - thanks for the recipe...I'm definitely going to try those muffins! :)

Anne Marie - You can use the "flax eggs" for any baking recipe. You just mix the flax with warm water, let it sit until it thickens a bit, then you're good to go!

Heidi Austin said...

my fav is simple: oatmeal, brown sugar, a little soy milk and 1 tablespoon of flax seed. Yum yum! It never gets old for breakfast. And thanx for the storage tips... I had no idea it could spoil!

Jon said...

Thanks for posting this. This is give me TONS of new food ideas.

misszippy said...

I use flaxseeds (or buy stuff w/ them) in a wide variety of things. I do find, though, that my finicky GI tract needs to keep the intake in check!

ShutUpandRun said...

Going to make some banana bread with flaxseeds as we speak...

Regina said...

I use ground flaxseed all the time, well a 2-3 times a week, on oatmeal and yogurt (ice cream if I am feeling indulgent). I'll have to try some recipes with it....if I ever get my lazy butt to cook anything.

Charisa said...

I love flax seeds - I make some granola cookies with them - they are really yummy :) Good luck in your 5k this weekend!

Tracey Kite said...

I use flax seed on my oatmeal, but you have given me lots of new ideas on how to use it THANKS!

Julie said...

I love flax and have several recipes, but because I just made it this morning and it is easy I have to share this one!

1 Minute Muffin
1/4 c flax meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg or substitute
1 1/2 tsp oil
or sub for the oil (my personal fav)
2 Tbls of canned pumpkin
pumpkin pie spice to taste.

mix and microwave 1 minute for 1 1/2 for pumpkin. I use a 1 cup plastic zip lock bowl. Works perfect! I then "frost" with a little sweetened cream cheese, I'm telling you to die for!